Girls strike a pose during Throw Down at Fly Dance Fitness

Last Tuesday, I walked into a “Throw Down”  fitness class at Fly Dance Fitness. This class was not your mom's Zumba by any means. It was rowdy, with very loud music, red lights, flashing strobes and even a disco ball. The other women in the class were very welcoming and gave me a high five with plenty of encouraging words when I walked in.

The instructor of my class, Leigh Hix, has been teaching at Fly Dance since its inception in 2014. She grew up doing cheer and dance, which has evolved into teaching dance-based fitness classes for over 10 years. “This is the best place to be in Sarasota,” Hix told me. “The amazing personalities in this class are what makes it so special, seeing all of the sweaty and smiling faces.”

When the music started, the girls (men are welcome, but my group was entirely female) immediately got into ready positions. Hix began by teaching a new routine that we would dance once at the beginning and again at the end. During the rest of the 55-minute class, she led everyone through old routines to increasingly fast-paced songs. Even though I couldn’t pick up all the choreography on my first try, just bouncing around and trying to keep up made for an incredible workout.

Unlike my middle-school dance team teachers, Hix didn't keep screaming, "five, six, seven, eight." She doesn’t bark orders, but instead lets students learn the dances at their own pace. It does take a healthy dose of focus to keep up with the routines, so your mind is cleverly diverted from the fact that this is serious work. And serious booty shaking. Owner Amy Buck told me that you can burn 800 calories in just one of these classes.

You can burn 800 calories in one class

Afterward, the gals stuck around and chatted about their day. The sense of community in this class really struck me. I have experienced many different fitness classes, from spinning to hot yoga, and at times find the atmosphere to be overly competitive and a little isolating. It was such a nice change to walk into a class filled with positive energy.

Buck spent years working out and teaching in traditional gyms before opening Fly Dance Fitness. Going to a gym every day can feel stale to most people. Buck found that women wanted a fun place to work out where they didn’t feel like they were on display under harsh lighting.

“I wanted to go clubbing at 9 a.m. on a Monday without the alcoholic drinks, and I wanted to get sweaty without judgment,” Buck said. “The room is dark, the club lights and disco balls are flashing, the music is thumping and we are working out!” I have to say, I felt like I was dancing in a music video for parts of it, living out my “video vixen” fantasies. Needless to say, I will definitely be going back for round two. New clients get a free class within a week of their first visit. And who knows, maybe I can try some of these moves out on the town.

Fly Dance Fitness is located at 999 Cattlemen Road, Unit F, Sarasota. To learn more, visit the website to sign up for classes, or call (941) 378-1359. A class for new clients is $15 with a free class within a week after the first class.

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